I wanted to come back to this blog to update you guys on the wonderful happenings in our life recently. Getting married, our St. Lucia honeymoon and settling into married life are just a few highlights that have been at the center of my attention lately, but today I can’t talk about any of that.
Today, my heart is heavy.
The morning of our wedding, Joseph was abruptly awoken at 5 a.m. by our 13-year-old cat, Apollo. He was howling at the top of his lungs and panting. Apollo has had these episodes before, but not like this. Joseph sensed something wasn’t right. He got in touch with our vet and by 9 a.m. that morning Apollo was whisked away for an x-ray. Joseph and I were married that day and during dinner that night as we celebrated with family and friends, he mentioned to me that something was on his mind. He didn’t want me to worry so he promised to tell me later. As soon as we exited our reception and we were in the car headed to the hotel, Joseph informed me of that mornings events. The x-ray had revealed a mass on Apollo’s chest. Unable to identify exactly what it was, the vet gave him a steroid shot and planned to revisit the mass in a month. Joseph’s parents took good care of Apollo while we honeymooned and we were given a full report of how Apollo was doing when we got back. He wasn’t eating as much and he was definitely still sleeping a little more than usual. We scheduled a follow up appointment with the vet and carefully looked after him.
This past Saturday, we took both Apollo and Zeus to the vet. Apollo needed to be updated on his shots and he’d be x-rayed again. Zeus also needed to be updated on his shots and micro chipped. It all seemed like a normal visit. We were shown the original x-ray from November 2nd before Apollo was taken to the back for the second x-ray. The wait seemed like forever. The vet, Dr. Jones, returned 10 minutes later with the results. He put up the old and new x-rays side by side. No one had to say anything. It was clear as day in those scans. The mass had grown significantly. Instead of a hazy smear in his chest, there appeared a bright white mass in his chest. I kept telling myself to keep it together. As Dr. Jones told us the news, my heart ached. It was a cancerous mass that had grown and Apollo was given 60 to 90 days left. That was all it took. We were given a timeline. I immediately broke down, covered my face with my hands and sobbed. This sweet old man of a cat was given a deadline and there wasn’t anything we could do about it. Operating on the mass could kill him as well as any sort of chemo. We were given an antibiotic that would slow the growth of the mass and increase his appetite. Dr. Jones also told us that Apollo gets whatever he wants. He isn’t restricted to his prescription diet and he’s free to eat like a king. When Apollo doesn’t feel well enough to eat anymore, that’s our sign we’ll need to take him in and say our goodbyes.
Death sucks. It takes our loved ones away, but teaches us that life isn’t a guarantee and we must live each day as if it were our last. So Apollo gets treats, lunch meat and anything else he desires until God decides the day has come.
I’ve struggled with this sad news greatly. I’ve quietly cried late at night. I have to hold back tears throughout the day and I’m anxious to get home from work to see how Apollo is doing. I dread the day when he doesn’t feel like eating anymore. We anxiously watch him eat every night. We hunt through the fridge and pantry to give him a taste of new foods. We pet him softly and coax him into hanging out with us before he heads back to the closet for another long slumber. We’re fine with this. It’s where he wants to sleep and be left to himself, but I’m selfish and I want him hanging out with us so we can squeeze out all the hours of his last days.
Our pets are just like any other family member. We love them unconditionally and we suffer greatly when they are gone. We are given many responsibilities when we decide to take on another life. We care for them, feed them, give them a roof, a bed, a home. We give them our hearts. We fall madly in love with them. And there comes a day when we must make the hardest decision and the one responsibility that truly sucks with pet ownership. Letting them go.
We also must do our best to look at the positives of this situation. The timeframe totally sucks, but it’s also a blessing. We are able to appreciate him even more and be thankful for the days we do have with him on this Earth. We take more pictures and hug him more. We watch him carefully in hopes of remembering every little detail of him. His white fur, little pudgy belly, the way his jaw moves when Joseph scratches his chin and the way he moves up to Joseph’s chest to mark his scratchy beard.
So for those of you that have pets, hug them today and everyday and appreciate the time you spend with them. And if you’d like, pray for our sweet boy.